It doesn’t matter if you are hitting a short hiking trial of you are on an extensive hike for a weekend.
The most vital piece of equipment you will carry is backpacking backpacks. Nowadays, the aim is to keep the weight down as much as possible.
This means you won’t be slinging the old-styled camping rucksack over your shoulder.
What you will have is the best piece of equipment with which to carry all your camping essentials.
With this in mind, these reviews look at the best outdoor backpacks to find which the best is.
What is a Hiking Backpack?
Backpacks are bags that will sit securely and comfortably on your back as you hit the hiking trails.
Such is the popularity of these. There are major backpacks brands that offer different packs for different uses.
This often falls into daypacks and backpacks for hiking and travel. For serious backpackers who stay on the trail overnight, a daypack is of little use. A good backpack needs to store everything you need for the length of your journey.
Like any camping gear list, there are different designs, so the functions are very different between them.
A suitable backpack needs to fit snuggly while offering lots of storage and easy access to your other gear.
These backpack reviews look at everything the top five have to offer. By the end, we will find the best backpacking backpack, which you can use for day hikes, or for overnight treks.
Top Backpacks for Hiking Reviews
1. TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping
Teton backpacks cover a wide range of uses, and the Sports Scout 3400 sits right in the middle of the range.
The construction on the best hiking backpack comes with and internal frame that adds comfort and the outer material is 600D ripstop nylon.
This makes it one of the most durable backpacks while keeping weight down to a respectable 4.5 lbs. With a 55L capacity, this is more than enough room for all your overnight gear.
It even comes with a dedicated sleeping bag compartment, yet for colder weather hikes; it may be too small for a thick sleeping bag.
- Durable materials
- Good price to performance
- Lots of compression straps for additional storage
- Molded channel harness
- Integrated rainfly
- Limited lifetime warranty
- No dedicated pouch for a water bladder
- Small sleeping bag compartment
- Internal Frame: Yes, aluminum stays
- Capacity: 55L
- Weight: 4.5 lbs.
- Material: Nylon 600D ripstop
- Sleeping Bag Compartment: Yes
- Size: 30 x 17 x 12 inches
- Max weight: 50 lbs.
A guide price of around $70 makes this one of the best affordable backpacks to offers so many features.
It is perfect for larger youths and smaller adults, and you can pack enough for up to 4 days of hiking. With the integrated rainfly, it is the best waterproof backpack on the test.
You can adjust it easily for the best fit with the multi-position torso adjustment. Storage-wise there is more than enough with lots of external compression straps.
This Teton backpack review may have found the best mountaineering backpack for the money.
2. OlarHike Packable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack, Ultra Lightweight 35L Water Resistant Hiking Daypacks with Reflective Stripe Foldable Travel & Camping Backpack Casual Daypacks for Men & Women
This OlarHike backpack review looked at the smallest backpack on the test. Because of this and its 35L capacity, it is designed to be a small hiking backpack.
The waterproof hiking bag is made of polyester, yet doesn’t come with any internal frame.
With a weight under 1lb, these foldable and cheap backpacks offer lots of storage compartments.
It comes with a 2-year return and refund warranty, which is commendable for something, which has a guide price of around $20.
- Foldable and Lightweight
- 2-year Return & Refund
- Small for long hikes
- Thin materials
- No inner frame
- Internal Frame: No
- Capacity: 35L
- Weight: 0.64 lb.
- Material: Nylon
- Size: 19 x 12 x 6 inches
The OlarHike pack is a handy little backpack, which has many internal storage areas. These are however more geared to everyday use or for traveling rather than stuffing with hiking essentials.
It does come with a front pocket for a cell phone and a water bottle mesh pocket, but there are no compression straps or clips with which to fasten additional gear.
For new hikers who want to sample the great outdoors, this can be the best budget backpack you can find for light use.
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3. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack
This Granite gear hiking backpack review looks at a redesigned option. It is very light for the capacity of 60L, and if you don’t go too close to the 35lb max weight, then it can be a great hiking companion.
There are lots of compression straps and mesh pockets in good positions for additional storage. The hip belt can be adjusted perfectly as it uses Velcro fastening.
The inner frame is a polypropylene sheet, so if you are toward the top end of the weight, you may find this and the thin padding on the shoulder straps a little uncomfortable.
- Plenty of space
- Adjustable hip and belt
- Is not comfortable when full
- Thin shoulder padding
- Water bottle mesh not durable
- Internal Frame: Yes, polypropylene
- Capacity: 60L
- Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
- Material: Nylon 100/210D
- Sleeping Bag Compartment: No
- Size: 23.5 x 13 x 8 inches
- Max weight: 35 lbs.
With a rough guide price of $200, it is affordable for medium-sized backpacks and backpackers who are looking to keep weight to a minimum. There are many features where you can trim the backpack weight down.
The frame is removable, as are the hip belt and the backpack lid. If lightweight backpacking is vital, then this is one of the most flexible options you can find.
However, in the quest for lightness, the material is on the thinner side of being durable on these best lightweight hiking backpacks.
4. Gregory Optic 48 Large Hiking Backpack
This Gregory backpacks review took one from a large range that fills most needs of an everyday backpacker. It can carry loads up to 40lbs and has a 48L capacity.
It is a lightweight backpack coming in at 2lbs 8 oz. and the Gregory bag makes use of the company’s Aerospan ventilated suspension. This uses moisture-wicking mesh to make sure sweat can evaporate easily.
In this range, it does have some competition, and when you compare the Gregory vs. Osprey Exos, it delivers similar features, yet it loses out in the comfort department.
This being said, the best large backpacks do distribute weight efficiently to the hips, so larger loads are not as taxing on the shoulders.
- Good weight transfer
- Lots of ventilation
- Carries heavy loads easily
- Outside mesh pocket not durable
- Water bottles hard to reach
- Not as comfortable as others
- Internal Frame: Yes, aluminum
- Capacity: 48L
- Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
- Material: Nylon 100/210D and 135D polyester
- Sleeping Bag Compartment: No
- Size: 28 x 12.5 x 11.5 inches
- Max weight: 40 lbs.
Users can find lots of easy-access storage in the Gregory Travel backpack, yet some of the more important ones are hard to reach. Water bottles being one of these.
With a guide price of around $170, it is among the best backpacking backpacks for longer day hikes and casual users.
For more serious hikers, they may find it lacking in overall performance and additional storage.
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5. Osprey AETHER 70L AG RUCKSACK
Osprey backpack reviews continually praise this brand, and this review is no different.
Osprey hiking packs are some of the best you can find, yet they are not made to fit everyone’s budget, and there are some downsides to them.
The Aether is a large internal frame backpack with 70L capacity. To make sure everything is safe and secure, and the construction remains intact, it uses 500D nylon in the construction.
The downside to the best men’s backpacks of this quality is size and weight. Weighing in at almost 5 1/2 lb., it is the heaviest on the test by a considerable margin.
Yet, if you are serious and often venture along trails for several days, then trekking bags like this offer all the bells and whistles you can expect. There is tons of storage, and ventilation is great, even when carrying a full load.
- Plenty of storage pockets
- Great ventilation
- Lifetime Guarantee
- On the large side
- Not suitable for short hikes
- Internal Frame: Yes Lightwire peripheral
- Capacity: 70L
- Weight: 5 lbs. 3.4 oz.
- Material: Nylon 210 and 500D
- Sleeping Bag Compartment: Yes
- Size: 33 x 16 x 13 inches
- Max Weight:
Osprey day packs are as durable, yet these are not like backpacks with lots of pockets such as this. With a price guide around $300, it is expensive.
For this price, you would expect a rain cover included with the best Osprey backpack.
What to Look For When Buying a Backpack for Hiking
When you are searching for the ideal ultralight backpack, there are no strict rules, yet there are things you need to consider.
A lot of it will depend on your intended use, and how much or how far you will be hiking. (Find the Best MTB Grips)
What you will need to be sure of is that you use good quality backpacks that offer a set degree of performance and features.
This buying guide will go through all you need to consider to find your next adventure backpack.
This will depend on how long you will be hitting the trails, as well as the time of year. Once the weather is cooler, you will require more gear. This means you need a capacity that will meet your overall maximum pack weight.
Guidelines for bag sizes are as follows:
- Day hikes or overnight hikes: 35 – 55-liter capacity
- Two or three-night hikes (Weekend): 45 – 75-liter capacity
- Above three day extended trips: 60 liters plus
Load Range and Backpack Weight
Following on from the above, you will need to keep an eye on the overall weight. While there can be a high capacity backpack by volume, this may not translate into the weight it can carry.
Adding to this, you need to consider all your other hiking or camping gear. The older it is, the heavier it is likely to be. New materials have used that offer the same performance yet are much lighter.
With this in mind, the general rules are, the heavier the backpack, the more it can carry. There are though some exceptions to this rule. As a reference, here are the guides for backpack weight compared to the carrying capacity.
- 2 to 3 lbs. Backpack Weight – Between 15 to 25 pounds of gear
- 3 to 5 lbs. Backpack Weight – Between 30 to 50 pounds of gear
- Over 5 lbs. Backpack Weight – 40 to 70 pounds of gear
Backpack Suspension and Padding
With long hikes and more gear, you need a backpack that has padding, which can accommodate the weight.
The good backpack brands make sure the weight is distributed onto the hips, so some of the pressure is taken off the shoulder straps.
The straps on the shoulder become more of a location device and prevent the backpack from swinging around rather than supporting the weight.
The smaller bags that are suitable for a day hike often don’t have these features because they are too small.
Padding in every region needs to be firm rather than soft. This softness, in reality, ends up not being as comfortable for heavier loads.
Aside from carrying all your camping or hiking gear. A backpack needs to do this in an organized manner.
Cramming your gear into one large compartment is unorganized, and you won’t be able to locate anything without first emptying the backpack.
Some models come with dedicated sleeping bag compartments. These make it easy when setting up camp.
Backpacks start to show their performance against price in this area. They will have lots of external storage and pockets. You can look at the storage in several areas.
Here are the main access points of these lightweight backpacks.
Main compartment access: nearly all backpacks have a top lid opening. Roll-top covers or cinch cords will secure these. Some models do have a front opening where you can use a U-shaped zip to gain access.
If you are looking to go on a day hike, you tend to find some of the smaller backpacks are multi-purpose and can come with a laptop sleeve.
If this is of interest, you do need to be sure there is some weather resistance to protect your device
Exterior pocket storage: These are often found on top-loader backpacks. These can be different types such as dedicated zippered pockets, or mesh pockets.
A mesh pocket is suitable for your water bottle or other things such as a lightweight rain jacket where you need fast access.
Bungee storage is another great option for quick-access items, as can gear loops in strategic positions around your backpack.
Backpacks, which offer a large compartment for a sleeping bag, can also be a great option. These keep wet hiking pants and other wet clothes away from other gear in case you get wet.
Hydration Bladders: There are a few of the larger backpacks that now come with dedicated compartments for a water bladder.
This isn’t though essential, yet if the backpack is hydration sleeve compatible, all the better.
Compression Straps: These compression straps deliver a dual purpose. If you have all your gear packed away, they can be used to compress your gear and pull it closer to your back. This offers more load stability.
Adding to this, you can use them to fasten additional storage to your backpacks such as tent poles or hiking poles.
Older backpack models came with an outer frame. This made ventilation easy because the backpack didn’t sit close to the body.
The internal framed models of new face a challenge to make sure there is adequate ventilation.
These backpacks are designed to hug the body as you move. Many designs have mesh backs and offset foam panels to increase airflow, yet these leave patches of sweat where the foam makes contact.
Many of the better models make use of the hip belt as a means of increasing airflow. With ridged backs, the weight is suspended between the hips and shoulders, so the back revives the maximum wicking features.
Backpack Weather Protection
Any backpacker will face bad weather at some time on their journeys. While there are many backpacks that are water-resistant, this doesn’t offer full protection against the elements for anything in your outer mesh pockets.
This becomes more evident when you have phones, cameras, or sleeping bags in your gear.
While most offer water resistance, they cannot fend off sustained rainfall. Water will seep into your backpack no matter how well protected it appears.
The ideal solution is a rain cover. The better models offer these as integrated right into the backpack. In a sudden downpour, you don’t need to open your backpack to locate it. Open one zip and pull the cover over your backpack.
These are a welcome addition, yet you may find, even some of the more expensive models require separate purchase of a rain fly for overall protection.
This can be one of the most vital areas that are often overlooked. Some backpacks cater for different sizes of hikers, such as small medium and large.
With these, you find the carrying capacities can change because of the differences in size.
Some of the better models allow for multi-position torso adjustment. While the backpack is maybe suitable for a certain sized hiker, it does mean you can adjust the backpack to the closest setting without compromising on your carrying capacity.
These can make a big difference, and it does mean different people can share carrying that backpack during a hike.
Aside from this, there are backpacks made specific for women, yet these adjustable ones mean they can betailor-fitted for women and teens while still fitting average-sized men.
We took the top backpack brands and pitted them against each other to find the best performing backpack while offering the best value.
Hiking for beginners can be daunting when they are unsure which equipment to purchase. More money doesn’t always equate to the best backpack for hiking in their case. We found this to be true when looking at the above.
After testing, we found there was one clear winner, which delivered fantastic value to performance, adding to this, it is one of the best-rated backpacks across quite a few price brackets.
We found the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack to deliver outstanding performance.
It was adjustable in lots of areas and could carry enough gear for a few days away. It even came with the most durable and most robust material on the test.
Add to this the inclusion of an integrated rainfly; this gave it all-weather protection. We also found it one of the few, which gave a dedicated sleeping bag compartment. This feature wasn’t even on more expensive brands.
Storage was everywhere, and it even catered for a water bladder, although this wasn’t a dedicated water pouch sleeve.
The internal frame didn’t hinder it in any way with ventilation, and the one thing, which took this popular backpack to the top of our tests, was the limited lifetime warranty.
This made this backpack from Teton Sports, a near-perfect performer for a fantastically affordable price.
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